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Trump’s pick to head ICE attended UMKC Law, served as deputy sheriff in Platte County

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According to ICE, the operation was a collaborative effort between Homeland Security Investigations and U.S. Customs and Border Protection that led to 28 arrests.
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According to ICE, the operation was a collaborative effort between Homeland Security Investigations and U.S. Customs and Border Protection that led to 28 arrests.

President Donald Trump’s pick to run the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement began his career as deputy sheriff in Platte County.

Trump announced on Twitter Sunday his selection of Mark Morgan, a Missouri native, to head ICE.

Morgan, who grew up in Lee’s Summit, served as a reserve deputy sheriff in Platte County from 1993 to 1995, a period during which he was also attending law school at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

Following his time in Platte County, Morgan served a short stint with the Los Angeles Police Department and joined the Federal Bureau of Investigation in 1996.

He served two decades in the FBI in a variety of roles, including leading an anti-gang task force in Los Angeles and heading the agency’s El Paso office, before being tapped to lead U.S. Border Patrol in the final year of President Barack Obama’s administration.

But his roots are in the Kansas City area. The Marine Corps veteran is a graduate of the University of Central Missouri. Jeff Murphy, spokesman for the University of Central Missouri, called Morgan’s nomination to lead ICE gratifying for the university.

“Mark Morgan graduated magna cum laude from UCM in 1992 with a degree in construction engineering, and now has a national leadership role in the area of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, which comes with tremendous responsibility,” Murphy said in an email. “We wish him much success in his new position, and are hopeful that through his service he can inspire other students in their career pursuits.”

Morgan graduated from University of Missouri-Kansas City Law School in 1995 before embarking on his law enforcement career.

“To me, any form of public service is doing good for a living. Protecting my family and friends and others, protecting the foundations that our country were founded upon, the principles we stand for, I couldn’t think of a better life,” Morgan told the UMKC Alumni Association in a 2016 interview.

Morgan’s nomination, which requires Senate approval, comes amid a larger shakeup at the Department of Homeland Security. Trump pulled his previous nominee, Ronald Vitiello, last month and promised to choose someone tougher.

Morgan stepped down from his role as Border Patrol chief shortly after Trump took office in 2017, but in recent months he’s emerged as a prominent defender of the president’s hardline immigration policies.

“The loopholes in our asylum laws, nonsensical judicial precedent, overwhelmed immigration processes and lack of detention space have helped drive what has devolved essentially into an open-border policy,” Morgan wrote in a March column for Fox News.

“Central American families are incentivized and rewarded to come and illegally enter our border because they know the Department of Homeland Security must release them within 20 days by law and they will be allowed to remain in the U.S. indefinitely while awaiting immigration court proceedings,” Morgan said.

“It’s simple – they step one foot on American soil, say the magic words under ‘credible fear’ and within a few days they’re allowed into cities all across the U.S.”

Morgan will be vetted by the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, which includes Missouri Republican Sen. Josh Hawley.

Hawley said he likes what he knows about Morgan’s record and noted that the Missouri native testified before the committee last month on migration at the southern border.

“Certainly, I thought his testimony before the committee was very impressive,” said Hawley, who said he expects to meet with Morgan in the feature.

Bryan Lowry covers Kansas and Missouri politics as Washington correspondent for The Kansas City Star. He previously served as Kansas statehouse correspondent for The Wichita Eagle and as The Star’s lead political reporter. Lowry contributed to The Star’s investigation into government secrecy that was a finalist for The Pulitzer Prize.
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